Tap the Brake: IIHS Adds Wayward Pedestrians to Its Testing Regimen

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
tap the brake iihs adds wayward pedestrians to its testing regimen

Not satisfied with turning up the heat on automakers via new crash tests and headlight performance evaluations, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety now has pedestrian avoidance systems under its microscope.

In its first round of tests, IIHS looked at the systems offered in 11 popular subcompact through midsize crossovers — vehicles that aren’t hard to imagine roaming leafy streets where wayward soccer balls (and those who chase them) lurk behind every parked car. The good news for both drivers and manufacturers? Nine of the 11 scored good marks.

Too bad about Mitsubishi and BMW…

Pedestrian detection systems use a combination of cameras and forward-facing radar to identify pedestrians and cyclists, determine whether person and vehicle are on a collision course, then, if necessary, trip the vehicle’s automatic emergency braking system. The driver also gets a visual and audio warning.

It’s key that this electronic magic work properly; otherwise, you’ve paid too much for the vehicle and probably just put your neighbor’s kid in the hospital. IIHS claims it began looking into the systems’ effectiveness after stats revealed a sharp uptick in the number of pedestrian fatalities in the United States.

The institute tested the 2018–19 Honda CR-V, 2019 Subaru Forester, 2019 Toyota RAV4, 2019 Volvo XC40, 2019 Chevrolet Equinox, 2018–19 Hyundai Kona, 2019 Kia Sportage, 2018–19 Mazda CX-5, 2019 Nissan Rogue, 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander and 2018–19 BMW X1. Of these models, only the Forester, RAV4, Rogue, X1, and XC40 have pedestrian detection as standard equipment on all trims.

IIHS staff ran the vehicles through three scenarios, with performance rated as basic, advanced, or superior. The first test involved an adult entering the street (and path of the vehicle) from the right side of a road. The second saw a child bolt from between two cars, while the third test featured an adult walking, back turned, in the driving lane, near the edge of the road.

In all tests, hypothetical driver reaction time ranges from 1 to 2 seconds.

Vehicle speeds for the first two (perpendicular) tests were 12 and 25 mph; the meandering adult scenario (parallel test) saw speeds of 25 and 37 mph. Tests were performed on dry pavement, and repeated five times. Given the faux child’s sudden appearance from between two cars and the lack of driver reaction time, test No. 2 is the most crucial one. It’s also the hardest for high-tech safety systems to pass.

“Only the Forester and RAV4 avoided hitting the dummies in every perpendicular test,” the IIHS wrote in its findings. “The XC40 avoided the adult dummy in the 12 mph and 25 mph tests and avoided the child dummy in the 12 mph test.”

Even if contact is made, vehicle speed can make the difference between bruises and death. The IIHS awarded points for deceleration and for giving the driver early warning of oncoming obstacles (the CR-V and Forester earned credit for being the only two crossovers to issue a warning before brake application).

The institute found that some vehicles, despite performing well in avoidance tests with other vehicles, crapped the bed when it came to pedestrians.

“The Outlander’s autobrake system mitigated its speed by about 19 mph in the 25 mph parallel adult test and by 11 mph in the 12 mph perpendicular child test,” the IIHS stated, adding that the other tests saw only minimal speed reduction before impact.

The X1 fared worst of all. That crossover “didn’t brake at all in the 37 mph parallel adult scenario,” the institute said.

“The luxury SUV had minimal to no speed reductions in the other tests,” the IIHS found, despite the presence of BMW’s Daytime Pedestrian Detection system. You can watch the little Bimmer drilling all sorts of humanity in the video posted below. The awful performance knocked the X1 out of the ratings, earning it no score. Meanwhile, the Outlander was the only vehicle to earn a rating of “basic.”

Elsewhere, the results weren’t nearly as bad. Earning the highest rating of “superior” were the CR-V, Forester, RAV4, and XC40. “Advanced” ratings (meaning good, but not excellent) were handed out to the Equinox, Kona, Sportage, CX-5, and Rogue.

If automakers think these test results won’t harm their chances of earning a coveted Top Safety Pick award, think again. IIHS spokesman Joseph Young tells Automotive News that pedestrian crash avoidance criteria will factor into the institute’s 2020 awards.

[Image: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/ YouTube]

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  • Millmech Millmech on Feb 24, 2019


  • THX1136 THX1136 on Feb 25, 2019

    Worried about injuring/killing a pedestrian vs not worried about terminating the life of a child in the womb (and now, in NY, after birth). Is there some sort of incongruity in the culture's/society's reasoning?

    • Jatz Jatz on Feb 25, 2019

      It would shock and educate the average liberal to actually READ comments on a site like Breitbart to see just how hard core and utterly non-racist are you anti-abortionists. As a staunch supporter of Margaret Sanger I always fell out with your kind.

  • Tassos What was the last time we had any good news from Ford? (or GM for that matter?)The last one was probably when Alan Mulally was CEO. Were you even born back then?Fields was a total disaster, then they go hire this clown from Toyota's PR department, the current Ford CEO, Fart-ley or something.He claims to be an auto enthusiast too (unlike Mary Barra who is even worse, but of course always forgiven, as she is the proud owner of a set of female genitals.
  • Tassos I know some would want to own a collectible Mustang. (sure as hell not me. This crappy 'secretary's car' (that was exactly its intended buying demo) was as sophisticated (transl. : CRUDE) as the FLintstone's mobile. Solid Real Axle? Are you effing kidding me?There is a huge number of these around, so they are neither expensive nor valuable.WHen it came out, it was $2,000 or so new. A colleague bought a recent one with the stupid Ecoboost which also promised good fuel economy. He drives a hard bargain and spends time shopping and I remember he paid $37k ( the fool only bought domestic crap, but luckily he is good with his hands and can fix lots of stuff on them).He told me that the alleged fuel economy is obtained only if you drive it like a VERY old lady. WHich defeats the purpose, of course, you might as well buy a used Toyota Yaris (not even a Corolla).
  • MRF 95 T-Bird Back when the Corolla consisted of a wide range of body styles. This wagon, both four door and two door sedans, a shooting brake like three door hatch as well as a sports coupe hatchback. All of which were on the popular cars on the road where I resided.
  • Wjtinfwb Jeez... I've got 3 Ford's and have been a defender due to my overall good experiences but this is getting hard to defend. Thinking the product durability testing that used to take months to rack up 100k miles or more is being replaced with computer simulations that just aren't causing these real-world issues to pop up. More time at the proving ground please...
  • Wjtinfwb Looks like Mazda put more effort into sprucing up a moribund product than Chevy did with the soon to be euthanized '24 Camaro.